August 1 to 29
Ghost Month this year. According to Chinese belief, it falls on the 15th day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar. It is a major Taoist and Buddhist event.
2,000 years ago
The evolution of the festival is disputed, but its roots date back more than 2,000 years.
Birthday of Lord Qingxu
In Taoism, the day of the ghost festival is the birthday of Lord Qingxu, the ruler of earth, who is said to descend to earth to judge the deeds of the living and release the dead from suffering.
Buddhists believe that Mu Lian, a chief disciple of Buddha, organized a ceremony on the 15th day of the seventh month to appease the spirit, who had been reborn in the hungry ghost realm of hell. This legend supposedly influenced the Chinese custom of making offering and praying for one’s ancestors during the festival.
Although Chinese have celebrated the festival for hundreds of years, celebrations in Hong Kong began only in 1897, when the boss of a sugar factory saw unusual objects “flying” outside his office window. He was told the unidentified flying objects were ghosts.
Asian countries that observe Ghost Month in some form or another include China, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, Japan, Vietnam and India.
Compiled by Miner Generalao and Kathleen de Villa, Inquirer Research
Sources: eresources.nlb.gov.sg, South China Morning Post
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